Knocking Action

For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about here is what knocking action means.  It means to ruin someones attempt at getting someone else to gamble. Now, if you have spent any amount of time at a pool hall you have probably had some experience at gambling. Whether it be gambling on your own game , someone elses or just watching others gamble.

This weekend I experienced a situation that is worth mentioning. My family and I went to see a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. As usual I drive to the metro link station on North Hanley road and take the metro link into down town where it makes a stop right by the ball park.  As we were coming back from the game 2 guys hop on the train. One had a folded up newspaper and three screw on type bottle caps (the white plastic kind) and small red ball. He asked these 3 young guys if they just came from the Cardinals game. (it was obvious that almost everyone on the train had) When they said yes he asked them if they did the shell game on the jumbo tron. (Which they do every game) Then he told them that he can do that with the three caps that he had in his pocket.

This was not the actual guy, just a picture I found on the internet that was as close to the actual scene and I could find!

So, he starts doing his shell game with the caps on top of the folded up newspaper. It was the typical 3 card monte style of game, but as he started to show his skill I spotted his move.  I was sitting down off to the side of him and could see it well, but the guys in front of him would not have known what was going on.  Anyhow, he was trying to entice someone to bet and that’s where is helper came into play. The guy that got on the train with him made the first bet for $20.00. And of course he guessed right. Now the suckers see that and figure they got a shot so they bet $20.00, now the guy is moving the caps around the whole time and his helper starts to talk to the suckers, they think he is trying to help but in reality he is distracting them from seeing the move. They make their guess and loose time and time again.

After they ran out of cash the 2 guys left the train to catch the next one headed back the other way. I walked up to the guy that lost his money and asked him if he really knew what was going on. He said yeah, I think it was a magic trick or something. So I decided to let him in on what was up. I explained to him how the 2 guys were working together and that they had their routine down cold.  And that they most likely ride up and down the metro link after the ball games making their money.

He said “If you knew what was going on why did you tell me?”  That’s a fair question, and I must admit I was on the fence the whole time as to whether or not I should let him loose his money. I answered, “Because I didn’t want to knock his action” I figure as long as it was small stakes I would let the kid learn his lesson. I paid my dues when I was younger and I am smarter for it now.  I know this might sound harsh to some of you but I am just trying to be honest. I don’t really condone what the guy was doing but at the same time I know that some people just have to learn the hard way.

This is also something I see often in the pool world. A guy comes through town, I know who he is and how good he is but as long as he isn’t out and out trying to hustle anyone I don’t knock his action. Nor do I steer him,  because in a way that too is knocking someones action.  I find its better to just let the situation unfold on its own. I have warned a friend of mine who was about to get into a big money game and would have lost his ass because he had the worst of it by far. You could say it was knocking, but I only stepped in because he was getting hustled bad. He literally had no chance of winning.

In todays world a guy walks into a pool room and makes a few bucks and the next day his picture is plastered all over the internet killing any chance of him getting good action or any action ever again. It has killed the road player profession. And like it or not, road players are what gave this game it’s mystic and allure. The best stories came from the great road players of years past. Spend a half an hour talking to someone like Buddy Hall, CJ Wiley or Keith McCready and it will become obvious to you why pool is so colorful. Their stories are the most interesting  life stories you will ever come across. Their way of life was exciting, dangerous, funny and at times sad, but NEVER boring.

The kid on the train now has an interesting story to tell his friends for years to come and he is a little wiser because of it.

Would you have handled it differently? Have you had your action ruined by someone else?  Whats your thought’s on the subject?

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One response to “Knocking Action

  1. Am I jaded? Any time a stranger asks me if I want to bet money on something, I say no because I assume there’s a trick or advantage that I’m not immediately seeing.

    You said these were “young” guys. I assume they weren’t _that_ young if they were alone on a train and at an MLB game and they had a few $20 bills in their pocket. In other words, I would have thought they had already learned the rule of shell-games and 3-card monty: you can never win.

    As far as I can see, you helped these kids out.

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